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Day 1 – A luxury journey by my standards

Day 1 (Monday 5th of June) begins on my Mum’s sofa; I’d travelled to Stevenage (my home town) on Sunday by train as I’d had the offer of a lift to Stalham from my Mum’s partner. The luxury of a comfortable car and lack of train fare could not be refused. I felt like a kid a Christmas I couldn’t believe later that day I’d be back on the broads.

This was to be family trip - our group of 5 consisting of My Mum, Mum’s partner (ElTel), My youngest Sister (Meat-Soph) and her Fiancé (Hamez). As a group this was our 2nd trip on the broads.

We were on the road at around quarter past 9 after a herculean effort to load the 2 cars with what seemed like enough food for an army. My Mum had insisted on bringing enough provisions for 2 years despite my protests, and reminders of the constraints on storage space on boats. I was especially concerned as I knew I would be kipping in the saloon. That being said this all added to the sense of anticipation there was something of the start to the Home Alone film about the morning as bags and boxes were shifted and humped around the hall before ElTel carefully packed and (I hesitate to use the word) faffed everything into the boot like a game of snack based Tetris all this while 2 crazed Yorkshire Terriers ran amok (they were thankfully to be left behind this time)

The journey to Stalham was uneventful enough we stopped for McDonalds at Thetford and shouted answers at the radio during Ken Bruce’s Popmaster quiz. I was impressed with our effort.

We soon arrived at Richardson’s yard at around 12:45 after my mum realised she had forgotten to pack the milk and she managed to fill half a trolly in Stalham Tesco. Meat-Soph had booked this holiday and we arrived as she was collecting the life jackets. It was pleasant not to have had to queue in the office and nice to just go with the flow for once – with a larger crew this became a theme and made for a very different holiday compared to my last trip on the broads. I seemed to do so little I’m sure I’ll struggle for blog content.

Broadland Breeze 3 was ready after 1430 - fenders counted and paperwork signed we were under way. It was well on the way to 1500 by this point. As we rounded Swan Quay and turned onto the River Ant proper I really felt a rush of excitement – the familiar sights of the boats in the marinas through the trees and the 1st of the classic River Ant wild moorings were like a tonic after the hustle-bustle of the boatyard and life in general especially considering the sometimes tragic national events of the last few weeks I really felt like a could relax. The delicate steering of Broadland Breeze seeming to obey my thoughts as we cruised in little more than tick over. For a June day I was surpised and pleased with how quiet the river was.

The weather forecast for the week was pretty dire at that point and Monday was not faring too well it was very chilly with ominous clouds and rain promised for later on. Our 1st port of call was to be Howe Hill. Mum had expressed an interested in visiting the gardens after consulting her guide book. However once we had actually moored up the chilly and the blustery conditions did not make for an appealing stop off. So we fed some geese and moved on. It was valuable mooring practice in strong wind and having a large crew meant that Hamez and ElTel were out with the ropes in no time! No Drama’s from this 1st mooring.

Ludham bridge was to be our stop for the night we navigated the last few bends and moored on the Horning Marshes side. After unpacking and generally getting the boat set up for the week I went for a wander round – I’ve not had a decent nose round the bridge area before having only ever made a beeline for the pub. 1 thing did catch my eye was the chained off concrete hump with a bit of metal on it at the sailing boat mooring. I’ll attach a picture I’m sure someone can tell me what it is?!

Unpacking complete and a can of grog consumed we made our way to the Dog Inn for some grub. The sky had darkened and I noted that I was the only one that had come out with a waterproof the others said they felt optimistic about the weather. I think it was the beer coats they were wearing.

As we wandered along ElTel decided to drop a bombshell. “Oh no I’ve left my wallet in the car” he mumbled. Assuming he meant boat I didn’t worry however when I looked at him I realized he indeed did mean Car. My 1st thought was shall I hire a bicycle and cycle the 30 mins back to Stalham? However it was getting darker and I was Hungry so we decided to leave it for the evening and make the 4 hour round trip back on Tuesday.

The news did dampen my mood momentarily and I was irritated as I had vague itinerary worked out for Tuesday and this would probably put pay to it. After some discussions about a suitable punishment a traditional keelhaul was plumped for and I put it my phones calendar for 6am the following morning. This lightened the mood and I idly thought what the point of going on holiday with family is if you can’t all bicker in the middle of the street on the way to the pub?!

The meals were not bad in the Dog Inn I had the large fish and chips which for £13 was a bit on the dear side for me. And I think the deep fryer oil was getting due for change. Everyone was satisfied with their meals though and we stopped for a pint or 2 after and watched the rain trickle down the windows.

It was brisk wet walk back to the boat where I promptly fell into a comer for the night.

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Edited by Londonlad1985
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According to the local history pages of the Ludham village website the chained off concrete thing was put in place during WW2. It's the base for some type of artillery for the local Dads army to use to defend the bridge and river. I gather that there was a fear that the Germans might sneak up rivers to invade.

Unless I'm mistaken I think I've spotted something similar near Acle bridge.

 Helen

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Just now, YnysMon said:

According to the local history pages of the Ludham village website the chained off concrete thing was put in place during WW2. It's the base for some type of artillery for the local Dads army to use to defend the bridge and river. I gather that there was a fear that the Germans might sneak up rivers to invade.

Unless I'm mistaken I think I've spotted something similar near Acle bridge.

 Helen

Wow! Excellent - that never even occurred to me! A bit of a coincidence as ive been researching WW2 infrastructure remains at work recently! 

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I've looked it up again and the website says it was the base for spigot mortar. The website is ludhamarchive.org.uk, there's a page on WW2 remains under the 'interesting stuff' section.

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Great website - i had assumed ut would be boaty!! it's last pretty well after 70 years! 

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Great start, car boot Tetris, I know it so well

Sent from the Norfolk Broads Network mobile app

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Day 2 – Ground Hog Day.

I was rudely awoken on Tuesday by the raucous call of a herring gull – this was lucky in all honestly as it was nearly 6am and I was acutely aware that we had to get back to Stalham for ElTel’s wallet. It was a bright windy morning with an overcast sky of high wite cloud however the forest indicated this would ne be an improving picture and the horizon was dark on all sides.

Hamez soon emerged from his pit to do the ropes and we decided on a stay of execution for EtTel.  A few cups of tea later it was a few minutes before 7 and Hamez was untying us. There was an offshore wind and so I was reasonably happy we’d get away without incident. That was of course until Hamez threw the rope on board before he stepped on.

Needless to say and what with the wind being what it was I was 2 meters from the bank and starting turn before he could blink! Please allow me to take this opportunity to apologies to anyone that was woken by my engine noise as I maneuvered back to the bank to pick him up. 

I gave Hamez a good scolding and explained a few sensible precautions to not getting left behind as only an older, angrier brother-in-law-to-be can. 

By 9am we were back on Swan Quay it had been a bit of a slog with some light relief provided by the many swifts flying low over Barton Broad I presume a late crop of my flies were emerging or something. They chased down and devoured the breakfast.

We filled up with water and were soon back on our way the weather was already starting to deteriorate and there were a few flecks of rain spotting the wiper less windscreen. As we crossed Barton Broad a loud claxon or siren sounded for a about 10 seconds followed by a short burst. I had a vague notion it was from the east but I don’t know. I presumed this was a flood siren but found little info on google or twitter… my knowledge of other places to look being limited. 

This put my mum at considerable unease for the rest of the day. I suggested being on a boat may be the best place during a flood. Meat-Soph reliably informed me it is also pretty handy in a zombie apocalypse however I’m sure there are no zombie sirens in the broads so we’d never know if one had begun.

Some 2 hours later found us at St Bennets Abbey another must see for my mum however yet again the weather had defeated us and she knew we were tantalizingly close to Potter Heigham and Lathams, this being somehwere. None of us had ever been. So it was with great excitement (mosty on my mum’s sister’s and Hamez’s parts) that we headed for Potter Heigham.

As we cruised down the Bure St Bennets looked impressive from the water the perspectives of the gate, drainage mill and cross changing as you meander, at certain points you would almost think the cross is right outside the gate and not over a 100m away.

Into the Thurn up towards Thurn Dyke I noted the Lion has got its “open and under new management” banner out. I’m a fan of the White Horse at Neatishead so I have put the Lion firmly on the list for next time.

We moored at the 2nd quiet moorings as there was no space at the BA moorings and Herbet Woods looked pretty full. It was getting on for noon and as we stepped off the boat the promised weather hit is I could actually see it cross the river and with a gust of wind the rain came in sideways it was absolutely torrential. Funnily enough the prospect of shopping in QDs seemed to drive all thoughts of staying on the boat from Meat-Soph’s and Mum’s minds so off we yomped off along the path behind the Repps chalets to Lathams.

We somehow managed to spend an hour in there I was getting pretty fidgety considering I was totally wet through I think I did well to last the course . It was a Family holiday and we wanted it to be for Mum and she thoroughly loved it buying a range of items from a pair of shoes to a fridge magnet with dog toys in-between. Hamez found a 12v inverter for £20 which would have been useful had anyone brought anything that needed plugging in.

Back to the boat and a change into dry things the hot air blower on the next 3 hours were a bit grim to be honest. The lower reaches of the Bure on a sunny day can be a bit of a tedious cruise, on a wet Tuesday it was not much fun. The music went on loud and we all sat in the saloon chatting as we took turns to helm. The wind had increased and the rain grew steadily heavier. Optimum time from crossing Breydon was just before 4pm according to the tide charts.

As we passed Yarmouth Yacht station I noted all the hire boats moored up - there was no room so despite my slight reservations I thought we may as well give the crossing a try I’d checked online and there was no mention if it being closed (however I’ve since been told it was closed at some points on Tuesday).

As I rounded the yellow marker and turned towards Yarmouth bridge I felt a sense trepidation. This was my 1st time across Breydon and the wind was apparently blowing 40-60mph. The waves were not inconsiderable and the 1st splashes of spray came over the front of the boat this was exciting. As we approached Yarmouth Bridge I thought as no one had sent a life boat the crossing was open. The 1st 5 minutes started OK the visibility seemed adequate and allowed me to see 2 marker posts ahead and I felt comfortable. It wasn’t until just after I crossed under Yarmouth Bridge did I feel I may have made a miscalculation. The wave that crashed into us knocked Meat-Soph and Hamez off their feet and emptied a cupboard onto the floor. I conisdered turning around at this point t but the waves seemed to be going directly into the bow - I didn’t feel I was able to turn and thus present the side of the boat to the waves for fear of damage or worse. I pressed on.

Repeatedly the waves crashed over the front of the boat and at 1 point I really felt I had no control. The steering seemed to have stopped and I wildly thought that the hydraulics had gone. However I think it may have just been a bit of a wave that didn’t leave much rudder in the water as steering returned and kept her more or less straight. Meat-Soph was ready to call the for help. The rest of the crossing passed in a blur but I managed to get across without further incident. Tt took a lot of concentration and as we entered the Burgh Castle Reach I was drenched in sweat. I look back now and laugh but at the time there were a couple of moments where I feared for my safety and the rest holiday. It was probably foolhardy if not stupid to have crossed. My mum was suitably unimpressed. Would I do it again? Probably. J

An short cruise later we found ourselves at St Olaves I’d have never realized how boaty it was from looking at a map I thought it would be a bit industrial for some reason.  – we moored at the BA moorings and Hamez, ElTel and I went to find the Bell Pub we had a walk round the village and I was impressed with the hint of the rich history of the settlement mentioned on the village sign. I could become a bit obsessed with Norfolk village signs. There are some fantastic flickr accounts that claim to show them all.

The village was charming the old priory looked splendid and the pub was also very nice. Had the weather been nicer I would have liked to had a look at Fritton, but the rain had returned so it was back to the boat for a spag bol expertly prepared by the girls, and a few cans of grog.

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Day 3 – Suffolk and Back again.

This time I was awoken by a cocky male pheasant having a caw! Having lived in London for the last 10 years I’d not seen a pheasant up close for a very long time. He even hung around long enough for me get a snap of him.

After the tribulations of yesterday I was delighted to see the weather had broken somewhat and there was blue sky between the large blocks of clouds. It was still windy though.

Oulton broad was the 1st destination. The cruise down the waverney was lovely there were brief spells of brightness and the bottom end of Oulton Dyke had a very seculded feel the wind seem to die down, and I assume it is relatively shallow as there were large masses of yellow flowering lilly pads at the sides giving the impression of a more intimate setting like some of the small narrower dykes and broads of the upper Yare.

I’d seen pictures and videos on Youtube and the broad looked very pretty with the large properties and gentrified buildings on all sides. As we entered I was surprised how narrow it seemed I couldn't imagine powerboat racing happening here however it is definitely something I would like to see.

The water on the broad was pretty choppy as we made our way to the lock end there was a distinctive roll to the movement, I thought mooring in the yacht station would easier than at the hotel. I turned past the pontoon mooring, there were 2 spaces a side on on at the angled bit next to the gate into the office or a stern on. No sooner had we begun to maneuvre in then 2 chaps from the yacht station signalled I should try the side on mooring but for some reason either my poor helming or the wind and chop I just couldn’t get the angle the wind seems to be swirling. They then suggested I stern on and helpfully told me where to position so the wind would aid in my reversing they also walked to the bows of the boats on either side and took the ropes to walk us in. There were very helpful and friendly and without their help and reassurance I wouldn’t have been able to moor. I big thumbs up to the yacht station and £5.50 was a small price to pay for the service and the water.

I hadn’t realized the settlement at the end of the broad has taken the name Oulton Broad I has assumed it was all Lowestoft. I found the place charming it was a very quiet morning I made a purchase of the obligatory fridge magnet for the office and sent a postcard. I had a wander round the lovely Nicholas Everet Park and grabbed some peanuts for mum to feed the squirrel. The little beasts were absolutely delightful and it was amusing to see the dogs on leads look on enviously at the fuss they were getting from the passersby and those that had purchased bags of monkey nuts from the postcard shop. The next time Im down south I may try an evening on Oulton broad the pubs bars and restaurants looked nice. I posted my card and we made our way back to the boat.

Meat-Soph helmed us out of the broad and the sun came out. It still very windy, but sheltered in the rear well it was an ideal suntrap. Our next port was Beccles. It was still morning and the long cruise in the sunshine flew by. I must admit I didn’t do much helming and I settled in to a nice day dream. So if the was much to see enroute I missed it.

We moored in the yacht station at Beccles which as having some extensive works carried out it looks like the quay heading is being replaced. A short walk up Northgate brings you to the bus station/ square we sat outside the Bear and Bell pub and had a pint in the sunshine. I took a meadering route back to the yacht station having a nose at the ginnels and alleys between the “gates” I was impressed with the eclectic mix of property style 16th century and older next to Victorian and modern.

I hadn’t done much helming and it was a boat trip after all so I was happy to have the afternoon underway and we headed back down the Waverney. I took more notice while driving and was amazed at the number of Marsh Harriers I saw. I was also pleased to see a cuckoo clinging to the reeds she no doubt had found an unattended nest to lay her eggs in. Having heard them many times this was my 1st opportunity to see one up close.

Our final destination was Somerleyton at the BA moorings we were the only hire boat on the mooring and there were 2 private cruisers moored up. The moorings were beautiful and the permissive path was well used with many birders out and about with their long lenses.

It was BBQ night and the high wind soon had the coals glowing. After some well burnt offerings we played some board games and had an early night.

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Day 4 - still, still learning to moor:facepalm:

The proceeded similarly early. Morning found us on the Hadiscoe New Cut as uninspiring piece of waterway as any I’ve seen. It was saved a bit by the oyster catchers on the marker posts which allowed me get a very close look at them. Reedham was in sight no sooner than you start along straight channel however it seemed never to draw any closer. We were due a water stop and Reedham seemed like the only place – I had a vague notion of reaching Norwich that day so wanted to get going early.

As we approached Reedham I was pleased see a mooring spot on the BA moorings having checked the times of the tides I was confident I was approaching from the right direction… confidence misplaced…… as I pulled alongside the bank, the back end was already kicking back out into the stream. As it turns out I was looking at the wrong dates. Next time I resolved to look at the water not the charts. We managed to spin around and somehow with luck more than judgment got into a mooring space at the pub. I was then treated to a wigging from the BA mooring man who had a brief rant about tides and “a*se ends going out” I meekly apologized and resolved to add another reason to the list of why boaters seem to dislike the BA A stance I have sometimes felt unfair as a local government worker reading forum posts. I dare say he sees many a clown in a hire boat and I was just 1 of many for the season. I did feel he looked reasonably harassed so early in the morning.

Milk purchased and water topped up we pressed on. ElTel and Hamez were keen to do some helming so again I found myself just watching the world go by, Reedham Ferry was in operation so there was a bit of a slowdown as she crossed.

Every time I looked up Cantley Sugar Factory seemed to be on a different side in a different direction. I was trying to keep up with the meanders on the map. After what seemed like an age we were passing the plant – it was far bigger and uglier than I’d supposed and It’s amazing to find something like that in a *coughs*  “national park”.

The Yare meandered on and reeds gave way to pasture and more trees, the abundance of wildlife was still vast and I would say compared to the northern rivers the south takes the cake for bird spotting. At one stage a marsh harrier was being harried by a buzzard which I thought unfair as the buzzard had the weight advantage, then as if only to compound my sorrow for the harrier the buzzard compelled it drop a small dark lump which the buzzard caught in mid air and made off with. An indignity for the harrier and the dead creature.

Brundall passed in a blur of spectacular and expensive boats ownership of which were wild day dreams. Somewhat more affordable were the Broom hire fleet some of their boats look great and they are a bit cheaper per week than Richardson’s top notch boats.

As we approached Norwich the landscape took on a more urban feel there was more activity on the banks tyre swings and children’s camps could been seen as could riders on bikes in Whitlingham Country Park.

Norwich it’s self is imposing enough for big city, however this was my 1st time by water – obviously the lowest way in terms of height. As with most cities in the UK the east side of town housed the industry so the prevailing winds carried unpleasantness away from the city and smarter neighborhoods grew up away from the smoke and smells. That being said there is a distinctive air of gentrification in the area. The new blocks of flats in red brick to imitate old architecture (not Norwich architecture by my guess) were impressive they had some more character than some of the blocks I’ve seen go up near where I live and work. I dare say it won’t be long before most of the warehousing and factories on that side of town will all be smart flats with the country park and the broads on one side and chic urban ciy life on the other I predict that the area wll be Norwich’s sought-after area and flavor of the month. I hope that it’s locals that buy them, and not wealthy investors.

We coughed up and paid for a short stay at the yacht station – this was my 2nd time Norwich and everyone else’s 1st. We made a bee line for the cathedral I’d not had a chance to have a look at the peregrines on my last visit as id forgotten my binos and we missed the guys in the gazebo. This time however we were rewarded. The pair was on the tower and the baby was on the screen. Big thumbs up to the guys running the stand they were friendly and knowledgeable and we all had a good long natter.

A tour of the market and charity shops complete Mum had supplied herself amply with knickknacks.

We were soon back onboard and underway our evenings destination to be Bramerton Common the weather had held and the afternoon into evening was glorious. We moored up outside the Waters Edge id wanted to see this place after one of Russell Thompson’s videos recommended it. I was not disappointed.

As arrived there had been a reserved mooring sign chalked out but it been poked behind a post and I didn’t notice it until we’d tied up. A couple having a drink and from a boat next to us seemed less than enthusiastic about us stopping “it was probably reserved” as Meat-Soph was reliably informed and they had pre-booked their mooring. Undaunted I enquired whether we could stop the night and book a table. This was to be the “nice” holiday night out of the week. We were encouraged to stay by the numerous attentive and friendly staff so we booked a table for dinner. Apparently it was the last available booking I was naturally skeptical that it was just line but I can say for a Thursday night the place was packed by 7pm. The meal was exquisite if expensive, 2 course each plus a round of drinks came to 155 quid. This was not an unheard of price but a 1st for me on the broads in a waterside establishment. That being said the place did have the whole package, location and sunset alone were enough to tip the balance well in its favor.

A few pints in the warm evening and a few games of cards saw the evening out and we retired.

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Cantley factory, ugly!!! How the very dare you!!!!!

Good read mate.

Sent from the Norfolk Broads Network mobile app

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Day 5 - Learn the plan. 

Finally we started with a lay in!! :-) it was 8 o'clock when I 1st opened my eyes. It was a glorius morning we wasted no time in getting the roof off.

We had a leisurely morning having a breakfast and faff before setting off around 9:30. The ultimate aim was back accross Breydon and moor at Stracey Arms. We had a very slow cruise back down the yare with a view to having a look at some of the side shoots.

1st was Surlingham Broad one of the most highly recommended for overnight mud weighting. We took a slow cruise through the Lilly pads, the water was crystal clear. The place teemed with life I have never seen so many tiny fish in one place huge shoals barely larger than freshly hatched fry! An excellent food source for the larva of the numerous dragonflies and less conspicuous great diving beetles.

We popped out through the narrow dyke and made our way to Rockland st Mary. Seeing some traffic on fleet dyke we popped down short dyke! It was a pleasant morning so Elel and Hamez went to the shop and i want for a wander around the staithe. It was a quiet little place and I have heard very good things about the New Inn. This looked like  lovley place for an evening stop over.

Having been out for 5 days it was high time for a pump out so i thought I'd try one of the hire yards at Loddon. We made our way down the River Chet - the water was brown and murkey and i fancifully thought that the vegetation had taken on a tropical feel I could imagine caymen and Aruwana fish lazily sunbathing as we took a broads cruiser down the Amazon.

Unfortunately the staith was full and there was a full compliment in at Pacific and Maffetts. so there was no hope of water or a pump out! I probably should have planned it a bit better!?!

Back up the chet and on to Reedham for water.
We took on water and waited at at the Lord Nelson for some liquid intake of pur own. It was a late crossing time for Breydon so off we set at the alotted time.
 
Breydon was a total contrast to Tuesday's crossing it was wind less and as still as a mill pool. With viability much better i was pleased to see the many shell ducks and their young wandering the mudflats.

We were soon back on the Bure and making our way to tbe Stracey Arms. On arrival we moored at the westerly end and had pork fajitas. There was £5 mooring fee which was apparently to be collected after 7pm. We sat up until 9 enjoying the last of the sunshine on the bank. We had all fallen asleep by about 9:30pm which was a rare treat! Unfortunately at 10 to 10 the ladies collecting the mooring fees arrived. I had ear plugs in so the 1st I knew was when mum was shaking me awake demanding to know if I'd seen her purse. Unfortunately  I assumed she'd lost it during the day and still hadn't cottoned on when she came back to say it was paid. Id been looking up the number for the Lord Nelson to see if it had been left behind! :facepalm:

Bed take 2.

Edited by Londonlad1985
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I had a thought regarding the siren/klaxon on Barton, when I was at school and learning to sail, they would sound a siren to let people know when it was time to bring the hire dinghys back in, just wondering if perhaps that's what this is?

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2 hours ago, JamesLV said:

I had a thought regarding the siren/klaxon on Barton, when I was at school and learning to sail, they would sound a siren to let people know when it was time to bring the hire dinghys back in, just wondering if perhaps that's what this is?

Could be for all i know! It sounded far away-ish

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